Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!
If you are of a certain age and remember duck and cover under your school desk for nuclear attack drills, under a poster saying “one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day,” this book will cause stress – rightly so. India is the setting of this Asia@War Series book, describing the oft-ignored entry and burgeoning status of India as a nuclear nation. It describes how India came to love The Bomb. This book is No. 25 of the Asia@War series, and details the nuclear weapons journey of a reluctant India, from 1960s to now.
The author, Professor Sanjay Badri-Maharaj has written nine books in Helion’s @ War series (six in Asia and three in Latin America and other books on modern-day military topics. I have reviewed two of these books previously for IPMSUSA – look ‘em up! Dr. Badri-Maharaj is an Indo-Trinidadian. He studied at Kings College London, and received a PhD from the Department of War Studies, focusing on India’s nuclear capabilities. Dr. Sanjay was a visiting International Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. He has authored from the Caribbean and India. Dr. Sanjay has unforgiving accuracy and incisive insights into the secret genesis of India’s nuclear warfare arm, told through the keen eyes of a practicing lawyer and participant. He has the inside track into deciphering India’s nuclear status.
What You Get
Dimensions are 11 ¾ X 8 ¼ inch (A4, 297 X 210 mm) and 4.5 mm thick. The book has Front and Back covers in color, and four pages of color plates and maps. Overall, there are 69 B&W photos, eight color plates, three maps and 16 charts/tables.
- Table of Contents
- List of Abbreviations
- Chapter 1 – The 1998 Nuclear Tests
- Chapter 2 – The Indian Doctrine – No First Use
- Chapter 3 – The Indian Arsenal Today
- Chapter 4 – Ballistic Missile Defences for India – A New Facet to Indian Nuclear Strategy
- Chapter 5 – Conclusion – India’s Evolving Nuclear Arsenal and Strategy
- About the Author
The first section of this morbidly fascinating book concerns how India went nuclear even though publicly stating they had no plans to go nuclear (Gandhi’s legacy was still fresh in the national consciousness). Both China and Pakistan, by invading contested areas and fomenting terrorism, embarrassed the Indian military and civilian governments. Along with the unhappy separation of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan and originally part of India), the real threat of foreign military intervention convinced the leaders of India that peace was fragile and their enemies were serious about doing harm to the Indian population. Seeing that China developed a nuclear capability early, and exported the technology to Pakistan galvanized the succession of Indian governments to pursue nuclear weapons. The road to becoming one of the eight declared nuclear powers (along with undeclared Israel) was rocky inside India, full of intrigue and was decried by the rest of the world, even the nations, including the United States, that helped India get there.
Chapter 1 gets into details about the decisions of how to go nuclear and who to ask for help. This chapter reads like an Ian Fleming James Bond book with dark intrigues, high stakes and misinformation galore. The necessity of nuclear power plants to build an indigenous nuclear weapon capability had to come first to generate fissionable materials - a lengthy process.
Chapter 2 presents the steps India took to court foreign help, establish policies, and to set up governmental and military infrastructures from scratch to make their own nukes. Secrecy and misinformation abound to this day, but was a necessary part of going nuclear. However, India was unusual in that they publicly published their nuclear doctrine – no first strikes, but having sufficient deterrence capability to prevent nuclear annihilation without giving details. This book actually reproduces those entire documents. The road to nuclear weapons goes through testing and secret meetings coupled with public disclosure to maintain deterrence ad the will to use nukes – a tightrope walk we have all lived with for decades, and still do.
Chapter 3 gets technical with estimates of how India became an indigenous nuclear power, the military and civilian infrastructures and much conjecture on what is real or fabricated. Chapter 3 describes the effort by India to build a potent and survivable nuclear triad force from land, sea and air, with unclear actuality of true capability. One thing is for certain – India has reliable nuclear weapons from land-based missiles launched from mobile launchers (rail and trucks) that can reach and waste Beijing, Shanghai and any part of Pakistan with small, medium or large warheads. Since the nuclear capability was understood to be real, no overt military actions have been fostered by Pakistan or China. MAD-ness (Mutually Assured Destruction) rules, just like US/NATO and Russia.
Air-launched cruise missiles and dropping nuke bombs from upgraded aircraft (mostly by modern Russian Su-30MkI aircraft), land-based cruise and ballistic missiles and their progressively larger range, size and destructive power, including MIRVs (Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles), and nuclear-powered nuclear ballistic missile submarines coming into service are all potent realities. Command and control, contingencies, survivability, second strike contingencies are real but intentionally unclear as to the extent.
Innovations such as launching short-range ballistic missiles from small naval boats and hardened Himalaya mountain bunkers also show India will be able to wreak nuclear fire havoc on Pakistan if any level of nuclear attacks, even tac-nukes or terrorist suitcase nukes, are utilized.
Chapter 4 examines how India developed an antimissile defense system, which makes their deterrent forces stronger. Defenses against other threats such as EMP are also covered. This chapter brings the reader up-to-date on strategy and doctrine.
This book is extremely detailed and catalogs a lot of possibilities, but the truth of India’s status as a nuclear state is ill-defined, which is part of the deterrence factor. What the readers does understand is that nuclear weapons are high stakes and our status quo is not safe. If you want a spine-tingling experience, read this book. This is the oblivious reality we live in.
- Figure 1: Front Cover of Nuclear India. From Reluctance to Triad.
- Figure 2: Rear Cover of Nuclear India. From Reluctance to Triad.
- Figure 3: The only public photograph of an Indian nuclear weapon – the first test of the Shakti-1 thermonuclear underground test in 1998, launching India into the nuclear age.
- Figure 4: The hole in the ground left by the Shakti-3 nuclear device underground explosion leaving no doubt that India has developed successful nuclear warheads.
- Figure 5: An air-launched BrahMos nuclear cruise missile on a Sukhoi Su30MKI fighter-bomber with a “show warload” including conventional bombs and antiaircraft missiles.
- Figure 6: Other innovative survivable options being developed include short- and intermediate range continental ballistic nuclear missiles on patrol boats (Nuke-on-a Boat) that are relatively inexpensive, hard-to-identify, making stronger deterrence against first strikes.
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